Simar retires from LSCO after 28 great years

Published 9:29 am Thursday, May 28, 2020

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Special to the Leader

With plans to travel, visit relatives, and work in a variety of capacities, Gina Simar scheduled herself to be just as busy in retirement as she was in her decades of service to Lamar State College Orange.

After 28 years with the college, Gina – Dean of Health, Workforce and Technical Education – officially retired at the end of March. She stayed on an additional month to ensure a smooth transition with the arrival of the new Executive Vice President/Provost, Dr. Wendy Elmore, during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even in the midst of the pandemic, Gina’s years of experience and level-headed leadership provided invaluable guidance to the college’s staff and students.

“Pandemic-wise, many decisions had to be made about classes, labs, and clinical rotations for students,” she said. “I also organized donations of N95 masks, gowns, gloves, and hand sanitizer to the Orange County Sheriff Department as well as other local agencies.”

Her dedication to her role at LSCO started nearly three decades ago when she started as an instructor in the Vocational Nursing program. Gina was promoted to Program Director for the Vocational Nursing program and then again to Allied Health Division Director. She eventually became Dean of Health, Workforce, and Technical Education where she was in charge of everything from Advanced Nurse Aides to welding.

“We celebrate Dean Simar’s magnificent legacy and devotion to our faculty, staff, and students,” said LSCO President, Dr. Thomas Johnson. “We are grateful for her many years of service and look forward to her continuing to be part of our beautiful college on the Sabine.”

A highlight of her career was winning the Regents’ Staff Excellence Award earlier this year. The award comes from the Texas State University System and only one exceptional staff member from each of the system’s seven-member institutions receives it. It recognizes staff who excel in commitment to the university and its mission, job competency, collegiality, duration of service, community involvement, and exceptional achievement.

The award commended Gina for “overseeing a broad variety of programs.” Its resolution states that she has “an exemplary record of service to the institution, having launched a successful evening LVN program, growing enrollment in the Vocational Nursing program, implementing an online RN program, and playing an instrumental role in designing the college’s new Nursing Classroom Building.”

Gina was also recognized for her “countless hours of service to the institution and her community, including the United Way, Lions Club, Orange Camp Fire Board of Directors, Orange County Red Cross, American Heart Association, Greater Orange Area Healthcare Task Force, Stark Diabetic Foundation, Orange County Child Welfare Board, and March of Dimes.”

Now in retirement, Gina intends to continue her volunteerism in the community as well as several part-time positions, including working at Focused Care Health and Rehabilitation Center, as a nurse aide evaluator, and as a dealer trade transportation specialist for Granger Chevrolet. Additionally, she’ll still have a role at LSCO as an adjunct instructor.

“I love LSCO; it has been a big part of my life for most of my life, “she said. “Most rewarding is going to graduation three times a year and seeing the students who struggled but were determined to graduate and move on to life-changing careers. I will continue to recruit for the programs and help out when needed.”